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New Department of Conservation permit conditions - artificial light, night vision, and thermal imaging.

The Department of Conservation have recently added, torches, night vision and thermal imagers to the restrictions on a recreational hunting permit:

The following activities are strictly prohibited under this Permit during the hours of darkness (½ hour after sunset to ½ hour before sunrise):

    • discharging a firearm
    • use of spotlights, torches, vehicle headlights, or any other artificial light source
    • use of night vision equipment, infra red and heat detecting devices.

We have checked with the Department of Conservation, who have assured us that the restriction of the above items are whilst used for the purpose of hunting at night.

If you are using a thermal imager to stealthily reach your hunting position before first light, or for locating a downed animal after dusk (shot no later than 1/2hr after sunset), make sure that you remove the magazine from your rifle, and empty the chamber. These are common safety practices, and should be observed anyway.

Read the following letter for an official clarification.

4 November 2015


Thank you for your e mail regarding the Department's hunting permit condition as it applies to hunting at night.
Apologies for delay in replying I have been out of the office for a few days.

Comments as follows:
· Hunting permits have conditions that govern the activity of hunting and are not intended to restrict or govern other activities.
· The above is reinforced by the following statement on the hunting permit "There are permit conditions that you must adhere to when hunting".
· Therefore Condition 4 (referred to in your e mail) applies restrictions that apply when undertaking the activity of hunting.
· Condition 4 sets out to prevent shooting at night as it is considered an unsafe activity. (Limited visibility both peripheral and in the backdrop.)

When considering if an offence has been committed, as it relates to hunting, the following applies.
· Opportunity: There are animals present in the area and hence a reason for hunting exists.
· Means: A person is in possession of a weapon capable of killing an animal.
· Intent: A person is in an area is in possession of a weapon, is actively "stalking" and the weapon is in a condition such that it can be discharged if an animal is encountered. (Bolt in the breech, magazine loaded).

Hence if as you mention you have your rifle slung over your shoulder with an empty chamber and magazine this would be sufficient to show lack of intent (to be actively hunting) and would not be an issue.

Hope the above clarifies the situation.

All the best,

Regards Ian.

Ian Cooksley
National Hunting Advisor
Department of Conservation - Te Papa Atawhai
DDI: +06 350 9709

Te Papaioea / Palmerston North Office
Private Bag 11010, Manawatu Mail Centre, Palmerston North 4442
28 North Street, Palmerston North, 4410
T: 06 350 9700




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